Continuing Tales

Both of You

A Miraculous: Tales of Ladybug & Cat Noir Story
by Maerynn

Part 52 of 53

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Any onlooker who didn't know better would have said that Adrien Agreste was doing perfectly fine.

The only reminders on his body from that day when his world had suddenly tipped into hell were a long scar marring the skin on his outer left thigh and an obvious limp in his steps. He didn't even have a cast on his left foot and his right arm anymore to remember the horrific events of that day.

He very well could have resumed his life without ever looking back on the past if that's what he had wanted to do. He had money in the bank, and a successful company handed to him on a silver platter, that Natalie had somehow managed to protect from the scandal of the century.

But to anyone who had exchanged more than two words with him in the last three months, it was clear as day that Adrien Agreste was anything but fine.

His entire life had come to a stop.

Three long months had passed, without any sign of improvement on Marinette's state. The bluebell eyes he missed so much were staying stubbornly closed, the laugh he had come to love more than anything had yet to be heard again.

Even though, despite the lack of improvement, despite the eerie silence that had taken up residence in her hospital room, Adrien couldn't bring himself to let her down. Couldn't abandon her, not after all they had been through together.

The second he had been able to stand on his own, no matter how much he limped then, it had been virtually impossible to remove him from her side. At first, the nurses tried to get him to sleep in his own room while he was also hospitalized. When every single morning without fail, they'd find him holding Marinette's lifeless hand, sitting in the uncomfortable chair beside her, his head rested on her mattress, they eventually gave in and rolled his bed in her room.

After all, who were they to try to keep their beloved heroes apart, regardless of hospital rules?

Upon Adrien's request, Natalie paid for the best private room of the hospital, called the best specialists of the country to come and investigate Marinette's case. Her parents tried to discourage him from going to such lengths at first, but when he argued that Gabriel was responsible for all this, and that it was only fair that Gabriel's money fixed it, they eventually caved in. After all, they wanted their daughter back as much as he did, and over the weeks, they had been able to witness on more than one occasion just how stubborn he was when it came to Marinette's well-being. So instead, they just focused on keeping the young man from starving to death, and from going mad with worry.

He had spent a lot of time with them the first weeks, waiting together for Marinette to wake up. Tom and Sabine had been a source of infinite comfort to him, once the shock of realizing just how much they already knew had worn off. They had been there every step of the way with him, supporting him in the hospital corridors when it had been time to exercise his injured leg, sneaking in homemade meals for him to replace the disgusting hospital food, taking Plagg's dairy preferences into account.

They were treating him like their own son, showering him with motherly and fatherly love, taking care of him. And it put a little balm on his shattered heart.

After a while though, bills kept piling up on the bakery's porch, and they had been forced to go back to reality, with the little solace that if Marinette was to wake up in their absence, at least Adrien would be there without fail.

Surprisingly, the media were very respectful of the traumatic events they had gone through. They left him mostly alone, the only reporter reaching out for him having been a tearful Nadja Chamack, half offering him a tribune should he have something to say and half begging for news on Marinette's state.

The Gorilla had proved to be incredibly protective of his pupil, even considering his employer's imprisonment. He guarded Marinette's room jealously, only relinquishing shifts to some of his bodyguards friends in order to sleep a few hours.

The first few days of their hospitalization, the hospital's security had been drastically enforced to try and avoid them being harassed, rendering visiting for anyone who wasn't immediate family nearly impossible. Alas, this also meant none of their classmates were able to visit at first, and they eventually stopped trying.

Nino had been one of the few to achieve the feat; how, Adrien didn't dare to ask. He visited a few times a week, slipping past the nurses somehow, and the young man appreciated his presence greatly. Nino didn't try to push him to talk, didn't ask questions. He just sat there, keeping him company, and talking about anything that wasn't superhero or family related. He never stayed long, but whenever he was away Adrien kept receiving a constant flow of texts of all sorts, ranging from the silliest memes he could find to long rants about the latest video game.

To try to alleviate the bite of Adrien's otherwise lonely days, Natalie, Sabine and Tom had made a concerted effort to keep him occupied. The Gorilla had brought him his computer and a gaming console, while Tom ensured to bring new books every now and then, since he knew how much the young man enjoyed them.

And Adrien read.

He read her so many stories in those three months that his voice was harsh from it, but he didn't mind. It was his way of being with her, of letting her know he was right there, by her side, even if she couldn't see him. He read her fairytales, murder mysteries, beautiful love stories that managed to move him to tears. Every waking hour, he would talk to her in one way or another. If he wasn't reading a book to her, he would ramble about just anything. Describe her his fights in Ultimate Mecha Strike, tell her about his life before meeting her, tell her about his worries, the things he wanted to do with her once she'd wake up. He planned a perfect life for both of them, describing it in great details to the beautiful sleeping face of the woman he loved.

He just had to fill the unbearable silence.

Still, three months, and she had yet to move an eyelash, to twitch a finger.

But still, three months later, her kitty only lived to see her beautiful blue eyes open once again.

The door opened with a creak, but Adrien didn't bother to turn around. He was tired, and his eyes were getting bleary from staring at Marinette's still figure all day. Weeks of being nourished via IV had creased her features in an unsettling way, and her complexion had gotten somewhat waxy, sickly. She had lost a lot of weight, which she didn't even have to spare to begin with, and the fingernails he trimmed cautiously once a week were becoming thin and frail. Her black hair had outgrown her shoulders, but it had lost its familiar shine. If it weren't for the comforting steady beeping of the machines surroundings her, Adrien would've had a hard time to believe she was still alive, still breathing.

A hand landed on his shoulder, startling him out of his grim thoughts. He didn't move, didn't want to face the intruder. All he wanted was to be left alone with the woman he loved and missed more than anything. He didn't need to hear once again that it could be years before she'd wake up, that he was wasting his youth away by waiting for her.

"This is getting ridiculous, Adrien. You are in dire need of a nice, hot shower, and you need to eat something better than what this hospital has to offer."

Adrien finally lifted his gaze from his girlfriend's motionless body, only to meet Chloe's stern face. Her lips were pinched in an obviously displeased expression upon seeing the state which her childhood friend was in. She sighed, readjusted the bag that hung from her shoulder, and deposited her fresh bouquet of bellflowers and snowdrops on the bedside table. Surprising Adrien's astonished glance, the blonde scoffed, "What? The lady at the flower shop said they meant gratitude and hope. I… I thought it was fitting. You're a mess, Adrien. She would be heartbroken to see you like this."

"Hi, Chlo," he answered, a tired smile on his lips.

The blonde cocked a hip aside, crossing her arms in front of her. "Washing yourself in the bathroom sink with washcloths doesn't qualify as proper showers, Adrien. And Sabine says she has troubles forcing real food down your throat. She's worried about you. We all are."

Her tone was gentle, earnest, and it startled Adrien. It was unusual for her to reach out like that, and it made tears prick at his eyes. "What about Mari? What if she wakes up while I'm gone? Nobody's gonna be there."

Another voice spoke from the threshold, "She's gonna wait for you. You know she will." Nathanael stepped into the room, smiling at him warmly. "We asked, there's a bathroom you can use a few corridors down, Chloe will show you where. I'll keep Mari company, and call you should anything happen, okay?"

Their gentle persuasion, coupled with a few assurances that he was currently driving Tom and Sabine mad with worry, finished to convince him to let Chloe take matters into her capable hands. Nathanael sat in the chair, sketchbook out, and gave him an encouraging thumbs up.

He followed Chloe down the corridors, uneasy at the thought of leaving Marinette's side for the first time in three long months. Sensing his hesitation, the blonde opened a door lightly shoved him inside what turned out to be a fully equipped bathroom, similar to the ones you'd find in locker rooms. "Get in that shower or I'll come in and wash you myself."

"Mari wouldn't like that," Adrien chuckled, reaching to turn the water on.

Chloe sighed, "What she wouldn't like is seeing you like this. Scrub hard, you need it."

"Jeez, thanks," he answered, though this time his smile actually reached his eyes. His modeling experience had gotten rid of any body shyness long ago, and he stretched to remove his shirt.

Averting her gaze, Chloe dropped her shoulder bag on the floor beside the door. "I brought some clean clothes for you, and I'll stay within ear reach should you need help with anything. Tom said your leg's still stiff at times."

"I should be fine, Chlo, thanks."

The door closed behind her, and Adrien finished undressing before stepping under the warm water.

For the first time in weeks, his loneliness stung a little bit less.

Fifteen minutes later, a renewed and freshly shaved Adrien exited the bathroom under Chloe's approving gaze. "There you go, back to the handsome young man we know and love."

He smiled, "Oh? Should Nate be worried?"

She gently nudged him as they walked back to Marinette's room, happy to see him in a better mood than she had found him. "Don't take your dreams for the reality, sunshine. I should have visited sooner, to be honest, but Nino said that you weren't very talka—"

She trailed off, and Adrien followed his gaze, curious.

A few feet from them stood Alya, talking animatedly with a nurse.

Without noticing Chloe slipping away from him, Adrien listened, bemused, as the nurse sighed impatiently, "I don't know what you're expecting me to tell you, Mlle Césaire. There had been no improvement in your friend's state for the last three months, as I've told you last week, and every single week since she's been admitted here. If you're striving for news this much, why don't you go to her parents, or to Mr. Agreste?"

Deflated, Alya choked back on a sob, "I can't. Not when she's here because of me."

This was more than the young man could bear. All of Nino vague texts concerning his girlfriend's wellbeing suddenly shone under a brand new light. He crossed the distance between them swiftly, and gathered her into a bone crushing hug.

Startled, Alya let out a small squeal before dissolving into a mess of tears in his arms, clutching at his forearms desperately. "I'm sorry, Adrien. This is all because of me, I'm so, so, so sorry," she sobbed in his chest as he rubbed comforting circles on her back.

He held her, silently, until the sobs came to a stop. He took her hand, the same way you'd hold an upset child's hand, and he led her to Marinette's room without uttering a single word. She followed him but stopped on the threshold, clearly uncomfortable. "I shouldn't be here, Adrien. This… I almost killed her."

Adrien gently pulled her into the room, not-so-surprised to notice Nathanael and Chloe had left. He walked Alya to the bed and affectionately brushed hair out of Marinette's face. "You didn't do this, Alya. My father did. You've been blaming yourself this whole time?"

She nodded, and Adrien felt his heart break on her behalf. Being with Marinette every day without a change was hard enough on its own, but her best friend had been depriving herself of seeing her out of sheer misplaced guilt. Sitting on the bed, like he had done countless times before, he took Marinette's hand and smiled at the young blogger warmly. "Let me tell you what really happened."

And he talked. He told her everything, from how they had defeated Cosmaniak, how they had convinced the TVi staff to let them air their message to Hawkmoth, how the fight had unfolded in the Tower.

He was halfway through recalling how he had threatened his father to jump down the Tower when he felt a sudden but faint pressure on his fingers. His words died in his throat as Alya gasped, jumping to her feet.

He turned around faster than he ever did in his life, and time stopped.

His gaze met bluebell eyes.

Both of You

A Miraculous: Tales of Ladybug & Cat Noir Story
by Maerynn

Part 52 of 53

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